I’m so honored today to be giving the keynote this morning at the Vintage Report Napa 2019. I’m excited to share notes from both my East Coast and West Coast vintages since I feel we as a country are quite separated into CA and Non-CA wine regions. There is so much we can learn from other area beyond where we are making wine and this is one of the central themes of my talk.
My life as an MW has slowly merged into my life as a winemaker and this was particularly evident in 2018. I was able to pull from the MW knowledge to make two very special wines; one on each coast.
My East coast wine is of course, the Trestle Thirty One 2018 Riesling. Previous to 2018 my wines have had a common style. Dry and textured with a clean, fresh mouthfeel and focused fruit and flint character. The 2018 vintage surprised and delighted me with a challenge when the fruit had a 30% Nobel rot influence and the Brix shot up to 24.5 in the press even though all evidence of prior samples pointed to a 19 Brix harvest. This gave me the opportunity to explore a style similar to an Austrian Smaragd. It is by taste dry but incredibly rich and concentrated. I tasted a number of them before kicking off the fermentation and used the style as my template for how to manage my Riesling.
The second wine was made in Oakville and was a dessert style which was originally planned to be made from Botrytis grapes. Due to the dryness of Napa, Botrytis is naturally hard to come by so I opted to follow Italian tradition and make a Passito method wine. We dried the grapes, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon both, on the vine to 34 and 36 Brix respectively. Then we used a Tokaji pressing method to soak the dried fruit and during the 12 hour press cycle extract as much precious juice as possible. We then used Sauternes inspiration for a French oak fermentation with 1/3 being new and a Sauternes yeast to finish it off. The finished wine is a beautiful mix of these styles which I would have never even thought of without my MW.
So if I can leave everyone with one theme from this it is as winemakers we can not isolate ourselves in our home regions. Collectively we can make better wine by learning from each other and about regions which on the outset it may seem we have nothing in common with.
For info on the rest of my talk about specifics of Napa and the Finger Lakes in 2019 I hope you can attend this morning. If not, perhaps the video will be posted by the Vintage Report team.